Doubles is even more popular than singles in pickleball, and there are plenty of great reasons why. Teaming up with a partner helps you play longer and more safely since you only need to cover half the court. The game also becomes more exciting and tactical when you have a partner covering your back.
You share the wins, the losses, and best of all, the fun!
Many players enjoy partnering with a friend or family member, and while this is a great place to start, you may be surprised to find that tensions can run high even during casual games.
Everyone wants to be a supportive partner, but at times it can be difficult to remember the original reasons you decided to play when you're down several points and caught up in the moment—especially if you're in a competitive tournament.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to support your partner on and off the courts:
Consider Your Partner's Goals
Is your partner actively looking to improve their game, or do they just use pickleball to blow off steam at the end of their day? If they are interested in learning new skills, do they appreciate constructive feedback during games or prefer to hear from you in a more relaxed environment?
It's important to find a balance between your own goals and those of your partner. Most players certainly want to win games when possible, but everyone has a different level of competitiveness and shouldn't be forced to constantly evaluate their play if they're just looking to smack a few pickleballs.
If you and your partner have largely different reasons for playing the game, it may cause trouble down the road, so it's important to ensure you both have the same goals in mind. Otherwise, try to be considerate of what they're looking to achieve and how you can support their aims.
Remember that every game is a learning opportunity, even when you're losing. Try to consciously take in as much of the action as possible so you can replay the points in your mind later. Doing this helps discover areas for improvement and come back even stronger later on.
Sometimes players can get frustrated when they're at a clear disadvantage. At times like these, it's important to remember why you started playing pickleball in the first place. Even for those who are competing at high levels, we're all engaging with the same game... and the goal is fun!
Don't let an 'off' day bring you down. The fact that you're getting to run around on the courts in the first place is cause enough for celebration.
Also consider how your mood affects your partner. When you're frustrated, they'll likely pick up on this and their attitude or play can end up suffering as well. On the flipside, if they're getting down, a kind word or two can do wonders to bring a smile back to their face.
Know Your Team's Strengths and Weaknesses
We all have our natural strengths. Maybe you have a powerful serve or can out-dink opponents for days. The same goes for your partner. Consider what they're good at and how you can best leverage their play style. Depending on how your abilities mesh, you can work together to come up with tactics that play to both of your abilities while shoring up any weaknesses.
It can be helpful to read up on tactics like stacking and poaching when you're ready to give more advanced techniques a shot.
Communication makes a huge difference for everyone involved. It's nice to be heard! Whether it's as simple as calling 'mine' or 'yours' during a lob or center shot, or you're examining ideas off the court, make sure you're constantly keeping your partner in the loop.
While the best teams seem to share an almost telepathic connection, you can bet that many hours of practice and discussion have gone into smoothing out their play. You should be allowed to rely on your partner as much as they rely on you, so make sure you go to them if you have any concerns, whether it's regarding your play or just feeling tension before a game.
Remembering these points will not only help you stand up to the competition, but have a wonderful experience playing pickleball every time you tackle a new challenge. Your partner will thank you and everyone will walk away happy.